Rugged data acquisition systems for field tests of off-road vehicles

Development of new vehicles such as utility vehicles or construction and agricultural vehicles is characterized by ever shorter development cycles and pursuit of higher productivity. At the same time, the number of variants is growing, as are demands for safety and functionality.

To continue to draw reliable conclusions about durability, today's test engineers are forced to record more and more measurement data in a shorter time. After all, measurement data is just as important as ever for optimizing design. That means loading data for vehicles and vehicle components must be recorded accurately and reliably.

Depending on the type of vehicle and the purpose of the measurement, however, there are different requirements for measurement technology. Here are a few scenarios:

  • A tractor in the dusty expanses of a wheat field, in the mud or in blistering heat
  • A construction crane for skyscrapers several hundred meters high
  • A ship for supplying oil rigs, exposed to wind and weather
  • A truck for transporting material excavated from a mine
  • A car in winter and summer tests north of the Arctic Circle or in the Nevada desert

In all these applications, specialized data acquisition systems likeSomatXR from HBM show their strengths: a rugged design and the flexibility to adapt to different measurement tasks.

Rugged design

To make optimum use of time during the measurement run of a prototype, it is important for the measurement technology to be able to withstand every type of loading. The challenges are manifold. Off the beaten track on unpaved roads, vibrations up to 10 g and impacts of 50 g and more may occur. Dust and dirt play a great role on fields and in mining. Temperatures of -30 °C and lower occur in winter tests and cold start measurements, while extreme desert sunshine in summer tests can easily reach temperatures of +80 °C. And as all these tests are performed outdoors, precipitation and humidity must also be taken into consideration. Rugged data acquisition systems are needed for applications in harsh environments to keep down times and the cost of repairs as low as possible.

Stable data acquisition

Nothing is more aggravating than losing measurement data because of unforeseen events such as a power failure or the data acquisition program crashing. Especially in long-term tests, when the user is not always on site to monitor error-free recording of measurement data, a measurement system that works stably and reliably is indispensable. That means the data format that is used can be read at any time and requires no termination. The number of unplanned interruptions is also minimized by using a stable operating system. It is also worth noting that if a test is interrupted without deliberate intervention by the user, data logging continues automatically after the interruption without any need for user interaction.

Web-based measurements

Alternative access to the measurement system is very convenient for measurements in harsh environments and in long-term tests, so that the user does not have to be on site for the entire duration of the test. A web interface provides direct access to the measurement data – anywhere, from any web-capable device. Then the test engineer can modify a test setup conveniently from his office or access test results and visualize live measurement data. In addition to easy remote access, a web interface also offers other advantages: Multiple clients can have access to the system and concentrate on the testing area that is important for them. This ensures a very high level of platform independence.

Flexible system configuration

Alternating measurement tasks require maximum flexibility from a data acquisition system. Modular architecture makes it possible to structure the system according to varying requirements, thereby reducing overhead. The amplifier can also be positioned close to the measuring point to minimize the effect of disturbance variables through early digitization. Universal inputs further increase flexibility, as they can be used to record numerous physical measured quantities with one and the same amplifier module, thereby reducing the number of modules.

One of these special systems is the SomatXR solution from HBM. It provides support for users in many different ways. The rugged design is a key focus in all aspects of both hardware and software to ensure maximum data security. The distributed modular system provides the greatest possible flexibility compared to stackable modular design. A data recorder of this type also offers additional functions for intelligent processing of channels (for example calculated channels, triggers and data reduction).

SomatXR profile

  • Stable and rugged
    • Degree of protection IP65/IP67 (dustproof and watertight)
    • Extended temperature range from -40 to +80 °C (measurements passing through the dew point are possible)
    • Shock and vibration-resistant as per MIL-STD202G: shock 75 g, vibration 10 g
    • Measurement data is saved reliably and efficiently with the robust data format and Linux operating system
  • Accessible from anywhere and from any web-capable deviceo    
    • Web interface with graphical user interface
    • No installation required
    • Independent of the operating system
    • Multiple users can visualize data
  • A flexible system for many different requirements in mobile tests and test benches

"We developed SomatXR to make a rugged data acquisition system available to our customers that provides a high level of usability and flexibility und won't let the user down, even in difficult situations."

Finn Lange, Product Manager, HBM

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